Edward A. Beach: Research and Scholarship

Greetings, friends, colleagues, or whoever else happens to drop in on this page! In the following paragraphs I shall briefly describe my research interests, accomplishments, and goals.

My general fields of study and scholarship embrace 19th and 20th century Continental philosophy (especially classical German idealism), the history of philosophy, ethics, metaphysics, Eastern philosophy, and the philosophy of religion. Within this broad area, my primary research is in the thought of Hegel and Schelling, especially concerning their metaphysics and religious hermeneutics.

In addition to a doctorate in philosophy from Northwestern, I have another doctorate in religious studies from Stanford. Often I am asked why, having completed a doctorate in philosophy, I then embarked on a second Ph.D. program in religious studies. The reasons are really quite straightforward. Insofar as the philosophy of religion is one of my primary fields of research, it is quite appropriate to have terminal degrees in both of the academic disciplines that deal with that topic. My double training has much sharpened the interpretive and critical skills with which I approach the study of religious thought. As a scholar, I am accustomed to using both methodologies in my research in 19th and 20th century religious thought. Likewise, as a teacher, it has been one of my main goals to convey to students the value of such an interdisciplinary approach where religion is concerned.

From 1982-84 I had the privilege of living in Munich, aided by the generous support of the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung (National Grant Foundation of the Federal Republic of Germany), in order to pursue my research on Schelling's philosophy of religion. I benefited much from affiliation with the Schelling Kommission of the Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften (foremost institute in Germany for research and publication on the philosophy of F.W.J. Schelling), as well as from the resources of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek and the University of Munich. My fluency in German also profited greatly from this experience.

My writing has explored some of the potentials and problems of dialectical philosophies, with special reference to their implications for metaphysics and the philosophy of religion. For example, in a paper entitled "Schelling's Conception of Dialectical Method: In Contradistinction to Hegel's" (Owl of Minerva, 1990), I made critical comparisons of Hegel's and Schelling's respective models of dialectical holism in order to determine the strengths and weaknesses of their systems. In addition, a detailed analysis of the later Schelling's religious philosophy, entitled The Potencies of God(s): Schelling's Philosophy of Mythology, has just been published by the SUNY Press. My work thus joins a small but growing body of literature in English on the later Schelling's philosophy.

Besides my work in Continental thought, I have also written on other topics. For example, some years ago I published a critique of a sophisticated version of contemporary relativism, "The Paradox of Cognitive Relativism Revisited: A Reply to Jack W. Meiland" (Metaphilosophy, 1984). This essay has since been cited several times in articles and books on relativism, and it is a topic to which I hope to return someday.

My current research project concerns the ongoing debate about epistemic foundationalism and the problem of systematic completeness in Hegel's philosophy. This was the main topic of my dissertation at Northwestern. My subsequent work on Schelling has given me a new perspective on the question which I expect will further my progress.

I am an active participant on the Hegel List, and only wish that there were other lists as well devoted to the study and analysis of Fichte, Schelling, Feuerbach, Strauss, and other important post-Kantian thinkers.

For further details, including brief abstracts of my publications, please refer to my curriculum vitae.